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Economic evaluations of mental health interventions in criminal justice

Knapp, Martin ORCID: 0000-0003-1427-0215 and Wong, Gloria (2023) Economic evaluations of mental health interventions in criminal justice. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 33 (2). 139 - 148. ISSN 0957-9664

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Identification Number: 10.1002/cbm.2286


Background Mental health interventions targeting crime perpetrators are available. An overview of the current scenario of their economic benefits will help policy decisions. Aim To provide an update on economic evidence for mental health interventions in criminal justice, and to identify challenges and responses in using economic evidence to inform policy. Method Narrative review with an analysis frame that organises evidence around four points on the criminal justice system pathway: (a) point of contact; (b) post-arrest; (c) incarceration/punishment and (d) post-incarceration. Results There is a paucity of high-quality economic evidence, especially from cost-benefit analyses. However, there is some evidence of cost-effectiveness in support of interventions at the point of incarceration, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, multisystemic therapy for juvenile delinquents, therapeutic communities, electronic monitoring and telepsychiatry in forensic psychiatry settings. There is also evidence that post-incarceration interventions such as assertive community treatment can be cost-effective. Conclusion There remain large evidence gaps. There are also challenges in turning economic evidence on mental health interventions in criminal justice into policy changes and improved practice, such as hidden costs, silo budgeting and delayed pay-off. Research incorporating multi-sectoral costs and benefits recommended by health economics and health technology assessment groups should be prioritised to support difficult resource allocation decisions faced by policy makers.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Personal Social Services Research Unit
Health Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I0 - General > I00 - General
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2023 14:21
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2024 00:18

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